Midsummer is time to grow your garden up with vines, horticulturist says

If your yard is looking a bit crowded with flowers and greenery, it may be time to start building your garden up.

Let the winding plants take over, adding greenery, flowers to boring fences, decks

Kath Smyth of the Calgary Horticultural Society is a gardening columnist with the Calgary Eyeopener. (Harington Telford)

If your yard is looking a bit crowded with flowers and greenery, it may be time to start building your garden up.

Kath Smyth, a horticulturist with the Calgary Horticultural Society, says Albertans should consider growing beautiful, blooming climbing vines in the garden.

Vines can be used to enhance a desirable feature, such as a chimney or wall, and to mask less attractive features, such as a chain link fence or a storage shed.

Some offer nice, green foliage and others bear flowers and fruits. Clematis, hops, honeysuckle, sweet peas and more will grow well in the Calgary area.

"The reason I like vertical spaces is because then I'm using all parts of my garden. I'm getting something up on a wall," Smyth told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday. "I'm making the wall look less like an old wooden fence or the side of my deck."

Smyth planted clematis at the base of her lilac bush. When the lilacs stop blooming, the clematis have climbed into the branches and bloom flowers.

"You got to use some of the spaces," Smyth said. 

She recommends gardeners look for clematis in what's called pruning group C, which means the vines will come back and flower on new wood. Clematis doesn't like peat moss, so don't use that.

Make sure they have fertilizer in the springtime. They'll also appreciate a taste of compost.

Interesting for winter

A solid structure to climb is key, and can add architecture to your garden.

"Come the winter months, and I hate bringing that up, but you've got something to look out at and go, 'Oh, I can see that next spring. It's going to look beautiful,'" she said.

For instance, she has a climbing rose on her arbour, and called it by name, William Baffin — prompting a laugh from host David Gray.

Turns out, there's a series of climbing roses named for Canadian explorers, from John Cabot to Henry Hudson. They grow more than three metres high.

"There's some beauties. William is lighter pink," Smyth said. "I always call him William. I don't call him Bill. He's not a Bill … very much a William."

So if you'd like to keep having fun in the garden this summer, she absolutely suggests you take a trip to the garden centre and check out the vines.

Each grows slightly differently, so be sure to check the directions. Some sprawl out, working as ground cover, and overs will drape out of pots.

She also suggests gardeners start picking their vegetables, do second seedings of veggies and dead-head those pansies.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


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